Jayke Menefy, 13, and with mum Nicole, who knows her son’s capabilities.
Jayke Menefy, 13, and with mum Nicole, who knows her son’s capabilities. Adam Head

'You're up, mate': Hero nipper, 12, rescues drowning man

"YOU'RE up, mate".

Those were the last words a Gold Coast mum said to her then 12-year-old nipper son as he headed into a treacherous rip to rescue a 38-year-old drowning father.

At 42kg, Jayke Menefy pulled the 100kg stranger from the grip of death on Easter Sunday at the unpatrolled Teewah Beach on the Sunshine Coast. The young lifesaver has been hailed a hero by the Queensland Police Service and Surf Life Saving Queensland.

"It might seem strange to some parents that I told Jayke to grab his board from the car and head out into dangerous water, but he has been a nipper since 2013 and is a very strong swimmer. I know his capabilities," mum Nicole Menefy told The Courier-Mail.

The Menefy family had been surfing at Double Point earlier in the day and were driving up Teewah Beach, which is accessible only by four-wheel drive.

"We spotted a group of people on the water's edge who looked very distressed. There was a little girl who was hysterical as her dad was stuck out at sea. My husband had just had a knee reconstruction and couldn't help and Jayke is a stronger swimmer than me, so there was no hesitation. I wouldn't recommend it to just any 12-year-old, " Ms Menefy said.

At his age Jayke would not have completed a formal course on surf rescue, but his nipper training taught him to stay level-headed, in control and how to paddle in rough waters.

Jayke paddled out to the drowning man on his surfboard and managed to find the power to pull him up enough so he could get a secure grip on the board. Unable to paddle back with the heavy drag, Jayke calmly waited for back-up as he consoled the man. Two adults arrived shortly after and assisted him.

Surf lifesavers were called to the scene and attended to the Springfield Lakes man.

QPS officers commended Jayke for his bravery and urged people to swim only in patrolled areas.

The day after saving a ­father's life Jayke turned 13. The Gold Coast boy is a nipper at Mermaid Beach Surf Life Saving Club. President Phil Chipman said everyone at the club was incredibly proud.

"This is why it is great for children to take part in nippers. They literally learn how to save lives."

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